Gravitational Energy Projectile Launcher


The objective of this event is to evaluate student knowledge of the conservation of energy and mechanical energy transformations as they apply to rotational dynamics, as well as reinforce the principles of Newtonian mechanics, especially as they apply to rotational mechanics. Each team will construct a custom designed and constructed device that will use gravitational energy to launch a projectile a maximum distance given a specified maximum mass input.


  1. Each device must be powered solely by a falling mass of 9.07185 kg (20 lbs.).  Each competitor must demonstrate the input mass of the device PRIOR to the launch.  Each device will be re-checked on the day of the competition to verify that this specification is not exceeded.
  2. The device trigger will be allowed to use a maximum energy of .05 J. (In other words, not very much!)
  3. The initial horizontal position of the projectile must not exceed the starting line marked on the launching area. (No head starts!)
  4. The projectile will be supplied by the competition judges, and will be a standard mass and volume lacrosse ball.
  5. If any of the above specifications are not adhered to, the competitors will be disqualified, resulting in 0 points for the competition launch.
  6. Each team will be required to assemble their device on the day of the launch.
  7. Each competitor will be given two shots, the shot with the maximum horizontal distance will be the measured metric.


  1. Structural frame components can be made of any material as long as the material is safe* to work with.
  2. Nylon or fabric string may be used.
  3. Metal fasteners may be used to connect components, but NO NAILS can be used.

Performance Metrics:

  • Distance from Start Line:
    The farthest shot of TWO trials will be taken as the competitor’s performance.

* This will be determined by the judges prior to fabrication.

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